The legacy of Ancient Greece, land of Pericles, the Three Hundred Spartans and Alexander the Great, created an unparalleled influence on Western thought and culture from the Mycenaean civilization (northeast Peloponnese) which ended around 1200 BC to the death of Alexander the Great (Macedonia), in 323 BC.
During that time, the legacy of ancient Greece had spread around the Mediterranean and through Alexander the Great's conquests as far as India.
In the 8th century BC, the Greek poet, Homer of Ionia-Asia Minor, became the world's first great writer of the first two greatest epics in world literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey which today, are among the most highly praised literary masterpieces in history.
Homer's literary works taught people the importance of courage, bravery and loyalty through Greek heroes who became role models.
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Herodotus divided the Greeks into Achaean, Aeolian, Ionian and Dorian Tribes.
The Mycenaeans (referred by Homer in the Iliad) were Aeolians and Ionians.
The Achaeans (Greek: Ἀχαιοί) inhabited the northern Peloponnese coastal strip of Arcadia.
Homer used the term Achaeans, as a generic term for all Greeks throughout the Iliad.
Achaeans colonized the city of Kroton in Magna Graecia (Italy).
The Ionians, originally from mainland Greece, colonized the western coast of Asia Minor around 1000 BC and gave it their name, Ionia (Greek: Ἰόνια).
They also colonized the Black Sea areas around the Hellespont and Pontos for their fishing and agricultural resources.
Twelve Ionian cities formed the Ionian League: Miletus, Myus, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Erythrae, Clazomenae and Phocaea, together with the islands of Samos and Chios.
From the 7th century BC, Miletus, was renowned for their Ionian school of philosophy founded by Thales and his student Anaximander who pioneered a revolution in traditional thinking about Nature.
Aeolis (Greek: Αἰολίς) comprised the west and northwestern, coastal region of Asia Minor and several offshore islands which included Lesbos.
By the 8th century BC they established twelve cities and formed a league (a Dodecapolis).
The most celebrated of the twelve cities was Smyrna (Greek: Σμύρνη) located on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor.
Smyrna was a major trading center and one of the first Christian communities in the ancient world, as mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
Polycarp (69 - 155 AD - Greek: Πολύκαρπος), a Greek Orthodox bishop and Apostolic Father of Smyrna whose use of the Pauline (St. Paul) texts marked a fundamental theological advance in Biblical interpretation.
His major writing, The Letter to the Philippians, relates the joy of Saint Paul, despite persecution and danger, Christian lives must be centered on the truth of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Historically, Polycarp formed a link between the Apostolic and Patristic Ages (time and writings of the Church Fathers).
Saint Polycarp died a martyr at the age of 86 when he was burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to consume his body.
Hippodamus of Miletus
Hippodamus of Miletus (Greek: Ἱππόδαμος ὁ Μιλήσιος - 498 – 408 BC) on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor is considered the Father of urban planning who is famous for building whole cities through the grid layout known as the Hippodamian plan.
The 5th-century BC architect designed his home city of Miletus and Piraeus for Pericles — two port cities designed around rectangular grids with wide streets radiating from the central Agora (market place).
He also designed the city of Rhodes and planned the new city of Thurium (later Thurii), in Magna Graecia, with streets crossing at right angles.
The Hippodamian plan was later used in many other cities, such as Halicarnassus, Alexandria and Antioch.
The Dorians (Greek: Δωριεῖς) were referred to in Homer's Odyssey were known for their trading center of Corinth and for for its ornate style in art and architecture as well as their strong, military state of Sparta.
They founded the Greek city of Halicarnassus (Greek: Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός) in Asia Minor where Herodotus, the “Father of History.” was born.
Legacy of Ancient Greece: The Greek Alphabet
The Greek alphabet, derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, developed in Greece about 1000 BC.
It is the world's first "true" phonetic alphabetic representing both vowels and consonants.
The Gothic (Old German Script), the Glagolitic (Slavic script), the modern Cyrillic (Russian) and Latin (Roman) alphabets are all derived from the Greek alphabet.
The word "alphabet" is formed from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, 'alpha' and 'beta'.
The Greek language became the international language from the Hellenistic Age beginning 323 BC up to the Byzantine Period which ended in 1453-AD.
Greek also became the lexicon of scientific repertoire.
Greek Mythology is all about gods, goddesses, heroes, creatures and Ancient Greek rituals that were told over many generations and are retold around the world today.
It had twelve gods and goddesses that ruled the universe from Mount Olympus, in Greece.
They are: Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Hermes, and Poseidon.
The main themes of Greek mythology are war, heroes, love, trust, morality and the underworld portrayed by characters who lead by example of how one can achieve everything through effort and the right way of thinking.
Many ancient Greek myths have been adapted into modern novels, movies, TV shows and video games.
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Most of the ancient Greek city-states were maritime powers who looked beyond the mainland for land, resources and outlets for their excess population.
The founding of colonies were organized by the metropolis (original, founding Greek city-state) across the Mediterranean and beyond to create a geographical area of Greece, its islands and colonies that were settled which included Cyprus, Ionia in Asia Minor, Sicily and southern Italy (Magna Graecia) and the settlements on the coasts of what are now Albania, Bulgaria, Egypt, Libya, southern France, northeast Spain, Georgia, Romania and Ukraine.
Anatolian Asia Minor was the place where many wonderful Greek colonies were established like Ephesus, Miletus, Priene, Harlicarnassus, Pergamon, Phocaea, Nicaea, Smyrna and Byzantium (later to become famous as Constantinople, the first and most important Christian capital of the Byzantine Empire.
The Greek colony expansion or apoikia (Greek: ἀποικία - "home away from home") that were founded became strong Greek city-states functioning independently of their mother regions during the 8th to 6th centuries BC.
Trade, then became an important enterprise for the sea-faring Greeks, for the development of the emporium (commerce).
The ancient Greek colonies grew to be over 500, independent city-states who shared a common language, culture and religion.
They called their land Hellas and referred to themselves as Hellenes.
Each city-state or polis:
*Made its oen laws
*Had its own army
Athens and Sparta were the dominant powers.
The main city-states of ancient Greece were:
Athens was famous for its culture, wisdom, beauty and the origins of democracy.
Many of Classical Civilization's intellectual and artistic ideas originated in Athens and have become foundations of western civilization.
The Parthenon on the Acropolis is an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and one of the world's greatest cultural monuments whose architectural design has been emulated in modern structures.
Sparta was famous for its military society and valiant soldiers.
From these ancient Greek warriors came the adjective - SPARTAN.
Corinth is famous for its Corinthian architectural column, artistic innovations and black-figure pottery.
Corinth is also mentioned several times in the New Testament.
The Church of Corinth was founded by Saint Paul, making it an Apostolic See.
The seat of the legendary king Oedipus and the locale of most of the ancient Greek tragedies.
Syracuse was a major power of the Mediterranean world and the birthplace of the pre-eminent mathematician and engineer, Archimedes, the Father of Mathematics.
Ancient Aegina was a maritime power, famous for minting the earliest coins in Greece which were accepted all over the Mediterranean.
Rhodes Island is famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
It was the first to introduce maritime law, founded colonies, minted coins and their school of sculpture produced masterpieces for foreign commissions.
Argos was famous for its horses and huge 3rd century BC, theater that seated 20,000 spectators connected to their Agora (marketplace).
One of the Greek cities that sent ships into the Trojan War.
Located on the northwestern corner of the Peloponnese it became famous for horse breeding and the world's foremost sporting competition, the Olympic Games that originated in 776 BC.
Legacy of Ancient Greece: The Classical Age
Greece was the first European civilization to create a culture that valued liberty.
The 5th century BC was the “Golden Age of Greece” (480 - 404 BC) where many of Classical Civilization's greatest intellectual, scientific, architectural, and artistic ideas originated and became foundations of western thought and culture.
It began with the defeat of the vast Persian army on land and at sea by the outnumbered Greeks in three major battles on land and at sea and won against the odds.
Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis are considered as defining moments of Greek history and culture because they set the stage for the ensuing Golden Age.
The Greeks not only saved themselves, but also Europe from subjugation and enslavement.
Literature, art, architecture, philosophy, medicine, law, mathematics and democracy all had their western birth and had a profound effect on shaping the modern world.
The Golden Age of Greece was the Age of Pericles (495-429 BC), a brilliant general, orator, patron of the arts and politician whose leadership and policies delivered political hegemony (dominance), economic growth and cultural flourishing through three goals:
1. Strengthen Athenian democracy
2. Strengthening the Athenian empire
3. Glorify Athens
We read the plays of Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aeschylus and Euripedis, gaze at the architectural wonders of the Parthenon on the Acropolis, study the wisdom of philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato and admire the principles of clinical medicine established by Hippocrates of Kos, the Father of Medicine.
Six of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world were inspired by Greek culture and four of them were Greek creations.
The legacy of Ancient Greece is seen in just about every city in the world today has examples of the ancient Greek, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns which hold up roofs and adorn facades in theaters, courthouses and government buildings and even homes, around the world.
Ancient Greece gave the world the Olympic Games and with one small flame (the Olympic Flame), it unites the entire world.
Legacy of Ancient Greece
The Hellenistic Age spanned three centuries of Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the rise of Augustus in Rome in 31 BC who became the first Roman Emperor.
Alexander the Great's ambition was to Hellenize the world.
His legacy though the Hellenistic Age began with the conquest of the Persian Empire following the Classical Age of Greece and characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization where Greek became the international language and Greek culture dominated much of the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Through his conquests, he founded over seventy cities such as Pergamon in Asia Minor, Antioch in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt which bears his name.
Alexandria was designed by Alexander's personal architect, Dinocrates of Rhodes, to incorporate the best in Hellenic planning and architecture.
Alexandria was founded in April 331 BC and became famous for the Pharos Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, its Great Library (the largest in the ancient world) and its Museum.
Alexander's chief architect for designing the new city was Dinocrates of Rhodes which ultimately attracted merchants, tourists, religious prophets and the finest intellectual minds of the time.
Its famous library in the 3rd century BC, was said to contain 500,000 volumes.
Its Museum was a center of research and had scholars such as Euclid (Greek mathematician referred to as the "Father of Geometry") and Eratosthenes (Greek mathematician, geographer and chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria) working there.
Alexandria was also a center for Biblical Studies who commissioned the Septuagint, which was the oldest Greek version of the Old Testament.
Ptolemy (Ptolemaeus) was one of Alexander the Great's generals who was appointed satrap of Egypt after Alexander's death in 323 BC.
The Ptolemaic Dynasty (line of Greek kings and queens), lasted from 305 BC to 30 BC.
The most famous was the last queen, Cleopatra VII.
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Biblical Asia Minor is the birthplace:
*Of the first Christian churches.
*Greek Saints such as Saint Luke the Evangelist, Saint Timothy, Saint Nicholas, Saint George, Saint Basile, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus and Saint Helene (the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great to name just a few.
Christianity was able to rise through the fusion of Hellenism and Judaism that formed the basis of Christianity.
The Greek people were the first Gentiles (non-Jew) to accept Jesus Christ and to worship as Christians.
Antioch became a center of Hellenistic Judaism and the cradle of gentile Christianity that is intimately connected with the early history of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Antioch was built by Seleucus Nicator (“Conqueror” - 358 - 281 BC) an army general of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC who who founded the Greek, Seleucid kingdom (Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν).
The Seleucid kingdom ruled not only Babylonia, but the entire eastern part of Alexander the Great's empire in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC.
Antioch was dominated by Hellenistic culture, philosophy and language.
It became a center of Hellenistic Judaism and the cradle of gentile Christianity that intimately connected with the early history of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was at Antioch that Gentiles were initiated into the Christian church and were called Christian for the first time,” writes Luke in the Acts of the Apostles".
It was from Antioch that Saint Paul set out on his first missionary journey to spread the Gospel of Christ to the pagan world.
It was at Antioch that Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles and Author of the First Gospel of the New Testament was written following the Great Commission.
Saint Luke the Evangelist
Saint Luke the Evangelist, the Greek physician and Christian Historian was born in Antioch.
The Early Church ascribes to Saint Luke authorship of both the Gospel according to Luke and the Book of Acts of the Apostles.
Saint Luke was also the first iconographer to paint the image of our Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Infant Jesus in her arms.
There were four Greek-speaking, Christian centers in the East:
*Rome was the Latin-speaking center in the West.
Hellenism and Judaism formed the basis of Early Christianity because Greek was the international language of the Greco-Roman Period (332 BC - 395 AD).
The New Testament was written in Greek.
The Old Testament was translated from Hebrew to Greek.
Greek was used to preach the Gospel of Christ throughout the Roman Empire.
The Apostles names were Hellenized and Greek names were also given to children throughout Judea and the Diaspora (e.g., Andrew, Peter, Paul, Thomas, Simon Philip, Alexander, Jason etc.).
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